King's College carol service saved after choral scholars test positive for Covid-19

The world-famous Carols From King’s service was saved at the last minute when two choral scholars who tested positive for Covid-19 were replaced by The King’s Singers.

The service at King’s College in Cambridge is pre-recorded each year and broadcast on BBC Two on Christmas Eve, marking the start of Christmas for many.

Two adult choral scholars, within the same household, tested positive for coronavirus and are in precautionary self-isolation, the college said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

They suffered only mild symptoms.

Christmas tree picture: JPI Media/Lisa Ferguson
Christmas tree picture: JPI Media/Lisa Ferguson

Internationally renowned vocal group The King’s Singers were asked to step in to join the young choristers at 48 hours’ notice.

The two groups, which stood a safe distance apart, sang with each other for the first time just minutes before filming of this year’s Carols From King’s service began.

Filming was completed on Sunday evening.

Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of King’s College, said: “We are all hugely grateful to The King’s Singers for stepping up at the last minute.

“They have shown tremendous goodwill and consummate professionalism.

“Our young choristers also responded very positively and with real maturity to the several challenges faced in reimagining the programme, and together they have enabled us to offer a wonderful Christmas service at extraordinarily short notice.

“King’s College Choir has been preparing for our Christmas broadcasts for months while following strict safety protocols, so it was particularly disappointing that the choral scholars couldn’t be with us for the filming.

“To have had one of the households hit by the virus at the last moment was incredibly unfortunate.

“In a year when so many will be spending Christmas in a way unlike any other in living memory, we were determined to do whatever we could to offer a meaningful and beautiful Christmas service.

“We’re delighted with the result of the remarkable efforts of so many people at King’s and at the BBC, and we look forward to sharing Carols From King’s with viewers across the country.”

An order of service will be available to download from King’s College from Friday for those wishing to follow it alongside the broadcast.

Their separate annual carol service, A Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols, will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

The college said it will go ahead without a congregation as a precautionary measure.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.